This delightful collection of 13 separate installments has been brought together into one volume: currently a month or so away from release, I was offered the opportunity to review this collection as a whole.
Based on a salon / parlor game created in 1920’s Paris by the French Surrealists, cadavres exquis or delicious corpses is a collaborative effort of 7 French authors written in collaborative form. Each author has written in their style, and contributed a passage to each story. The resulting product is 52 of the strangest and most uniquely clever short stories that highlight the author’s particular talents as they amuse, confound and delight readers.
Did I mention that the idea came from the French Surrealist ideas? Think Salvador Dali or André Breton, and you have a reference point for the delights found within these little tales. And they are perfectly suited when you only have a short time to read and need that quick diversion. Fortunately there are 52 different stories to choose from: each delightful in its own way.
The writing is beautiful, the skill each author brings to the forefront in the stories is apparent. The stories develop with an organic feel that is both unique and amazing as a reader to see. Writing a good short story is a difficult process: creating characters and situations that need resolution in only a few pages is often more miss than hit. That does not happen with this collection: each story has a beginning, middle and end, and the journey to the end is delightful and often unexpected. I don’t have a single favorite story, nor did I find a story that I didn’t like. Several were read more than once, there is a deliciously silky feel to the prose that delighted my senses and kept me reading, anxious and dreading to reach the end.
Whether you wait for the full collection, or dive in now with any one of the 13 volumes: you will not be disappointed in the result. This is a great opportunity to test the water with short stories, see if you may find a new favorite option for your reading.
Title: 52 Serial Shorts: Complete Edition
Author: Harold Cobert, Irène Frain, Christine Orban, Daniel Picouly,, Yann Queffélec, Tatiana de Rosnay, Didier van Cauwelaert
Publisher:Le French Book
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Speculative
Series: 13 volumes in the book with 4 stories (roughly) per book
Best Read in Order: not required
Purchase Now: Complete or purchase the smaller single volume options:Vol 1 § Vol 2 § Vol 3 § Vol 4 § Vol5
§ Vol 6 § Vol 7 § Vol 8 § Vol 9 § Vol 10 § Vol 11 § Vol 12 § Vol 13
About the Book:
Beware! Writers on the loose. Seven of France’s top authors got together to play a collaborative writing game resulting in fifty-two wacky stories. They each wrote an episode, passing it on to the other, and so forth, until all seven had contributed to each story. They set traps, had fun, and used their prowess to continue and conclude each story. The result is this collection of short stories: some are zany, some are clever, some are just plain weird, but all show the incredible creative skill of these seven very fine writers.
It is surrealistic, literally. This kind of collaborative writing–what could be more in line with the times?–dates back to a writing game invented by the French Surrealists in about 1925, called cadavres exquis. The direct translation is delightfully morbid: exquisite (or delicious, if you prefer) corpses. These corpses are not, in fact, not to decaying bodies, but entertaining seven-author stories that showcase true writing skill, mixing the styles, feelings and predilections of each author.
About the Authors:
he Serial Shorts Gang is a funky combination of seven of France’s top contemporary writers, including two Goncourt prize winners and one of France’s most-read authors. They are real heavy hitters, who have written among them upwards of 175 acclaimed works of literature. They are:
Tatiana de Rosnay
Didier Van Cauwelaert
We would be amiss not to mention the editor who brought them all together for this 52 Serial Shorts writing adventure: journalist Bernard Lehut.
Who are they?
Harold Cobert is the youngest of the crowd. He has written six major tomes about the French revolutionary Mirabeau, and three novels, one of which one the Prix du Style, for literary style.
Novelist, historian and journalist Irène Frain is a major figure in French literary circles who began her career as a professor at the Sorbonne. She has over thirty books to her name. She was born in 1950 in Lorient and is a founding member of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society.
Christine Orban is a bestselling French novelist best known for her explorations of love, desire and female psychology, with over twenty years of writing behind her. She was born in 1954 in Casablanca.
Daniel Picouly, writer and television personality, wrote his first novel with the help of Daniel Pennac, and now has fourteen novels and nearly forty other works to his name, including children’s books and comics. He was born in 1948 and comes from a family of 13 children.
Yann Queffélec also won the Prix Goncourt, in 1985 for The Wedding, which is one of thirty-two novels and essays he has written. He was born in Paris in 1949, where he currently lives; he loves Brittany.
Tatiana de Rosnay is a household word in both France and the United States, who ranks as one of France’s top ten novelists and one of the most-read French authors. Her Sarah’s Key sold two million copies in English and three million in French. She was born in the suburbs of Paris in 1961 and is of English, French and Russian descent. She lives in Paris with her family.
Didier Van Cauwelaert is a French author of Belgian descent, who won the Prix Goncourt in 1994 for One Way. His books are translated into over twenty languages. He was born in 1960 in Nice.
The black and white pictures of the gang are by Julien Magre.